In 2004 historian John M. Barry wrote the definitive book on the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Between 1918 and 1920, 675,000 Americans, many of them previously healthy young adults, died from a novel H1N1 strain of flu as it swept across the country in waves. Comparing the current COVID-19 pandemic to the 1918 pandemic has been common in recent weeks. In an interview with CIDRAP News, Barry shares what’s the same, what’s different, and why he’s glad historians don’t have to predict the future.

 

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